There may be good reason for the Olympics to postpone. But that good advice will not come from the world leader who did the least to prepare for the impact.
Tokyo 2020 organizers said on Friday they were moving ahead with preparations to hold “safe and secure” Games on schedule, after U.S. President Donald Trump said officials should consider delaying the event for one year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Japan has sought to squash speculation that the event, which has cost it at least $12 billion in preparations and attracted more than $3 billion in domestic sponsorships, could be canceled or postponed as the number of cases grows worldwide, including in Japan.
“The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee wants to move ahead with preparations for a safe and secure Games this July,” the organizers told Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.
It added that to that end, it is monitoring the coronavirus pandemic together with the international Olympic and Paralympic bodies, receiving advice from the World Health Organization, and coordinating with the government and the Tokyo authorities.
The outbreak has already crippled global travel and hit Olympic qualifiers and other sports events. Japan has shuttered schools. Public health officials have discouraged large gatherings to curtail the spread of the highly contagious disease, and major soccer tournaments, National Basketball Association (NBA) games and other sports have been halted.
“I just can’t see having no people there,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday.
“Maybe they postpone it for a year… if that’s possible,” he said, adding he would not officially make that recommendation to Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who could make his own decision.
“I like that better than I like having empty stadiums all over the place. I think if you cancel it, make it a year later that’s a better alternative than doing it with no crowd,” Trump said.
An Olympic organizing committee board member said earlier this week any decision to delay the Summer Games would need to be made before May. On Thursday, the prelude to the games got underway with the lighting of the Olympic Torch in a scaled-down ceremony behind closed doors.
The United States is one of the biggest participants in the Games, which are scheduled to begin in July and expected to be a major economic boost for Japan.
(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski and Linda Sieg; editing by Richard Pullin)
Subscribe to Skift Pro
Subscribe to Skift Pro to get unlimited access to stories like these ($30/month)Subscribe Now
Photo Credit: A man wearing a protective face mask following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) walks past a banner for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, March 11, 2020. Issei Kato / Reuters
Marriott CEO Juggles Growth Ambitions With Plan to Go Net-Zero by 2050
Anthony Capuano revealed an an ambitious sustainability plan at Skift Global Forum on Wednesday, which puts a lot of the onus on franchise owners and partners.
Cameron Sperance and Matthew Parsons, Skift | 32 mins ago
Travel Agent Interest Surge Expected in Post-Pandemic Family Travel
Don’t discount the need for travel agents in the future of travel. Two recent surveys show Americans increasingly want to utilize a travel advisor’s services for post-pandemic vacationing.
Cameron Sperance | 9 hours ago
Travel Needs to Get Ahead of the ‘Great Migration’: Strategist Parag Khanna
The media may be spinning a tale of increased nationalism, but that's not what's actually happening. The travel industry's focus must stay on the world's shifting human mobility patterns where it can play a huge role and reap the benefits.
Lebawit Lily Girma | 16 hours ago